Lena leaves school at age fourteen or sixteen. She marries a boy of eighteen, who also left school after class seven or eight. The boy’s parents have a small farm where all the children work together.
She cooks with the mother in-law and is with her all day in the field or at the market. Each time she drops a plate, she is scolded by the mother in-law, “It is because you never went for seclusion”. Seclusion, here, is a euphemism for the cut.
If she gives birth and is not cut during labor pains, she will be told she cannot feed the baby or cook properly. Every day she is called the “special name” for un-cut women and gossiped about in her presence. Lena, faced with this situation, will one day take herself for the cut.
She cannot endure the humiliation and the depression that follows.
We were informed that, when she – who by then is a mother – is sent away by the husband, she contemplates the conditions in her own parents’ home. She considers their poverty. Weighing the options before her, she changes her mind and goes back to her husband’s hut and opts for the cut. Lena is un-educated, not exposed to options, no job, no inheritance.
Lena’s story is just one of many. And with each passing day, many Lena’s are made. We can reverse this. We are working towards it. We’re working towards giving all Lena’s an opportunity to achieve their potential.
Stop FGM. Stop FGM in Kenya.